SKC Depth Chart Impresses

Saad continues impressive form, Bieler ends scoring slump
by Skylar Rolstad   |   Monday, September 09, 2013

State of SKC - column on Sporting KC (SKC) & the Kansas City soccer scene.

Sporting Kansas City's 2013 season has been marred by inconsistency and slumps and adorned with streaks, shutouts and dominance in possession.

One of the main issues of this year, however, is the difference between the two.

A home performance for KC is quite typically an outclassing of the visitor or an absolute disappointment. On Aug. 3 against Red Bull New York, the wheels fell off for Sporting KC as they fell to the Red Bulls 3-2 and gave up all 3 on counter attacks.

Earlier in the season, Sporting escaped the Columbus Crew at Sporting Park, having given up 2 goals on egregious defending errors, and won the match 3-2. On Saturday night, the Crew made a 2nd trip to Sporting Park.

This time, Sporting KC brought the other element of their game to the pitch, showing excellent depth and tactical ability to win the match by a score of 3-0.

Part of what made Sporting’s win especially emphatic was which players were not featured on Saturday night. Matt Besler was out of the game because of international duty. The centerback played 90 minutes in USA’s 3-1 loss to Costa Rica on Friday. Graham Zusi also played for the US Men’s National Team Friday, and was replaced by Eddie Johnson after 58 minutes. Leftback Chance Myers also missed and was replaced by Josh Gardner.

A rather controversial move by Robb Heineman sent Sporting’s forward Dom Dwyer back to Orlando City for the USL PRO championship against Charlotte, where he was loaned to for much of this season. Dwyer had played in many games for KC since coming back from Orlando as a sub and made his 1st start for KC on in a game 2 weeks ago against Colorado.

The move was very confusing to me, as it seems completely beside the point of Kansas City’s affiliation with Orlando. The affiliation is supposed to enable MLS clubs to send players that could use playing time that will further their development as professional soccer players. Dwyer is not that type of player, he is a perfectly legitimate candidate for a starting position on Sporting’s team, and one that Kansas City could certainly have used Saturday night in a tight race at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Instead, Sporting loaned a player of a much higher caliber to Orlando only for the sake of them winning a trophy. The system was a bit cheated and what’s more, Charlotte would have won the match had Dwyer not played, as Orlando won the match 7-4 with Dwyer scoring 4 goals.

Since July 13, Sporting KC’s new DP striker had not scored. Saturday, in just the 7th minute, Bieler converted a penalty kick that ensued from Benny Feilhaber being clipped in the middle of the box by Will Trapp. While Bieler’s goal was just a penalty, it’s a much-needed boost in confidence for him. Bieler saw more of the ball than usual this weekend because Kansas City could move the ball around with such ease. It was Bieler’s ability to drop back into the middle of the field that caused Sporting’s goal in the 41st minute, of which Bieler record an assist.

Ike Opara worked alongside Aurelien Collin to preserve a shutout for KC, and Jimmy Nielsen only had to make 1 save. Gardner earned his 1st minutes in months as he filled in very well for Chance Myers. The man of the match is awarded to Soony Saad, whose unbelievable form continues again. The Lebanese international was extremely involved throughout the match and was often the one serving in crosses.

With Saad stepping up, Sporting did not miss Graham Zusi at all. In the 41st minute, Saad scored a sensational goal from a shot fired into the top corner and over the goalkeeper’s shoulder. Saad was also instrumental in getting the ball into Bieler more often.

Forward CJ Sapong made his 2nd start since June 22, and was yet another player that took a huge stride in the right direction. Sapong’s goal in the 55th minute put the game beyond all reasonable doubt. A lofted ball from Uri Rosell about 10 yards from the box put Sapong in position to head the ball past Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson. Lampson should have come off his line and done everything he could to knock the ball away, but instead didn’t get up and over Sapong to knock the ball away. Lampson completely took himself out of the play by staying behind Sapong as he headed the ball around him. This goal marks the end of a horrible scoring slump for Sapong that began on May 5.

A new signing for Sporting this summer, Jimmy Medranda, made his debut as a Sporting KC player on Saturday, as Feilhaber made way for him in the 89th minute.

Kansas City’s next MLS match will be Sept. 21 at BMO Field against a reeling Toronto FC that lost 4-0 to Portland Timbers last Saturday. SKC will have a CONCACAF Champions League match against Real Esteli at Sporting Park on Wednesday, Sept. 17. Sporting opened the CCL campaign against Esteli and defeated them 2-0 with goals from Ike Opara and Dom Dwyer.

NEXT UP: September 17 – Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Esteli, Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kans. 8 p.m. EST, Fox Soccer Plus.

Skylar ROLSTAD

Nationality:
USA
College:
Univ. of Kansas
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
AC Milan
A student at the University of Kansas. He writes for the Sporting Kansas City club column for Soccer Newsday and is a regular at Sporting Park. His passion for soccer can best be described as unhealthy.
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